Customer Spotlight: Steve Westlake’s WaterMate

Customer Spotlight: Steve Westlake’s WaterMate

Steve Westlake would never have classed himself as a ‘skilled’ gardener. Apart from mowing the lawn and keeping the trees maintained, he left most of the planting jobs to his wife. That was the case until he decided it was time to start growing a variety of fresh vegetables to help pad out his diet.

When Steve and his wife bought and assembled their first greenhouse, it wasn’t long until they realised that their plants needed more regular watering than anticipated. Then begin the search for high-quality, automated tech…

What problems or challenges in your growing journey were you looking to solve that led you on the search for a watering system?

Until we bought and assembled our first greenhouse in June 2021, the limits of my gardening skills were mowing and lopping. My wife has always been and continues to be the plant expert, but I am the one that gets hungrier and I don’t eat meat or fish. So it was my idea, with no previous experience, to grow lots of lovely veggies to eat – starting with the obvious; tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies, courgettes, peppers.

Surprisingly and against expectations this continues to go very well and we have a great time eating all the produce. However we quickly realised that in summer we could not leave the greenhouse for more than half a day between waterings, and even with morning and evening watering each and every day, our plants would wilt in between. Who knew? 

So we stuck with Spring and Autumn holidays for a couple of years, even then relying on some very kind friends to water each day we were away. Approaching the third growing season we knew we had to throw some high-quality tech at this…

How did you find out about Harvst?

In the cold dark days of January this year (2023) I typed something along the lines of “Automatic greenhouse watering system” into the Google search engine.

I wanted a reliable system that I could access remotely, would work without mains water pressure, would run autonomously if it lost internet access and would come back online with no loss of functionality after a break in mains power.

Which Harvst products do you have? 

I have a WaterMate 4-Season with mains power input. The mains power is generated by solar panels on the main house roof. Rainwater is harvested from the garage roof and is routed via a down-pipe diverter to a 1000 litre IBC tank.

What made you try our product over other watering systems?

I needed a watering system that is reliable in operation, robust to interruptions in mains power and internet access, can pump its own water and is accessible over the internet. That rules out 90% of what is out there.

What drew me in particular to the WaterMate 4-Season is the three additional output ports that can control a range of items including water pumps and valves.

How has our watering system solved your gardening challenges and/or elevated your growing experience?

I have the two main watering zones in the greenhouse set up one for staging sprayers and one for large pot drippers. These zones are completely independent in terms of watering timings and durations. I have set the watering durations for a warm and cloudy day with watering once in the early morning and once in the early evening. So far, so straightforward. But what happens on a hot and sunny day? 

Well you can, and I have, set up the WaterMate to water more frequently if the temperature in the greenhouse gets higher. This means the plants will get watered several times on a hot day if necessary. No more wilting! 

This was the big unexpected benefit of the Harvst system. Watering that adapts to the plants needs means a much healthier greenhouse. Plus, we can be away from the greenhouse on even the sunniest of summer days and don’t have to worry.

What are the main benefits of using a smart, automatic watering system you manage from your phone?

Having confidence that your watering system is working when you are away, and conversely having visibility when it is not. In principle you could update the watering times and durations when you are away, but personally I have found it beneficial to make a change and monitor the effects in the greenhouse for a few days first.  

What are the 3 biggest things you love about Harvst?

  • Very good customer service on sales and technical
  • Having a real human being to talk to on the end of the phone
  • Being able to buy a complete set of parts as a kit for the first order. So you know you won’t be missing something critical when you come to put it all together

What are the 3 biggest things you love about your watering system?

  • Flexible programming options. Very good web-app based user interface
  • Adaptive watering makes for happier, healthier plants
  • Ability to control additional pumps and valves

If you want to follow in Steve’s successful footsteps, you can shop our automatic watering systems here.